Dinghies on a snow flecked beach at Pwllheli. The new Welsh National Sailing Academy and Events Centre is currently being built adjacent to this beach [2014-15].
Highlights: Mediæval castles • Steam railways • Dramatic coastal walks • Boating and yachting • Friendly beaches • World-famous Italianate holiday village • Welsh language stronghold • Pilgrimage route • Area of outstanding natural beauty • Special area of conservation
Llŷn is the peninsula in the north of Wales that sticks out at the top of Cardigan Bay. It’s southwest of the isle of Anglesey and to the west of the Snowdonia National Park. It culminates in Bardsey Island [Ynys Enlli].
A patchwork of small fields surrounded by hedges or stone walls, low volcanic hills with a dramatic backdrop of mountains to the east. Farming is mixed, small scale, with some artisan producers. South Caernarfon Creameries is near us: a 127 farmer-owned dairy co-operative that turns 12 million gallons of milk each year into a variety of food products. The north coast comprises mainly rugged cliffs, punctuated by small sandy coves and is protected as an 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty'; the south side shelves down to long sandy beaches interspersed with headlands. The main harbours are Porthdinllaen, with it’s dramatically sited lifeboat station and famous Ty Coch pub on the beach on the north side — and Porthmadog, Criccieth, Pwllheli and achingly fashionable Abersoch on the south side. Porth Neigwl, or Hell’s Mouth is a long, west-facing bay popular with surfers. The surrounding coastal waters are a 'Special Area of Conservation' to maintain and improve the aquatic environment.
Bordering Cardigan Bay, the weather is [usually] far less extreme than in the Snowdonia National Park. The Gulf Stream has some effect, particularly on the south side of the peninsula; so although it can often snow on the mountains, lower down or near the coast is milder, although December 2010 has proved this theory wrong with really deep show for some days. Some dramatic bright and sunny days occur throughout the winter; late spring and into May/June can be particularly fine; during the school summer holidays the weather can be good, but not always consistent.
Typical Llŷn winter landscape: upland sheep pasture and woodland.
Getting there and around
From Liverpool/Manchester is via the A55 Chester-Holyhead North Wales Expressway and then the A487; or through the Snowdonia National Park on the A5 to Betws-y-Coed and then on the A470/A496/A487; or from the Midlands and South on the A496 coast road or on the A470/A487.
Main roads throughout Llŷn have all been improved and/or upgraded recently, including the new by-pass round Porthmadoc, opened in 2013.
Access by public transport is not great. Travelling by train, the Cambrian Coast Line from Shrewsbury [with links to Birmingham and beyond] terminates at Pwllheli; or on the Chester-Holyhead line, alighting at Bangor and catching two buses. Rail connections to the main UK north/south routes are at Birmingham, Crewe and Manchester. National Express coach routes from Liverpool and Chester via Caernarfon terminate at Caernarfon. Regular local buses serve the towns and villages adjacent to the A497 road along the south coast and less frequent buses go to more remote locations.
For older passengers, there are deals on specific trains on the Cambrian Coast Line and bus journeys starting in Wales are free to bus pass holders.